Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Today's song/Goin' Back - The Byrds; and the last post on Letters from a Hill Farm

I have been mulling over the prospect of letting my blog go for quite some time. I've talked to Tom, I've thought long and carefully, and I've written out some 'last post' drafts, but honestly, this song says it all. It is time for me to 'go back.' To live my life without writing about my life. 'A little bit of courage' is right. It isn't easy to stop something that has been part of my life for six years. But the time has come. I've closed the comments. I'll leave the blog up on the internet because it has been a chronicle of my life since November 22, 2006.

Before I go I want to thank all my readers for caring so much about my letters. I have loved our conversations. Nothing is wrong. Really. It is just time.

Goin' Back -  The Byrds

Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin

I think I'm goin' back
To the things I learned so well in my youth
I think I'm returning to
Those days when I was young enough to know the truth
Now there are no games
To only pass the time
No more electric trains
No more trees to climb
But thinking young and growing older is no sin
And I can play the game of life to win

I can recall a time
When I wasn't ashamed to reach out to a friend
Now I think I've got
A lot more than just my toys to lend
Now there's more to do
Than watch my sailboat glide
But every day can be
A magic carpet ride
A little bit of courage is all we lack
So catch me if you can, I'm goin' back

La la la la la, etc.
Now there's more to do
Than watch my sailboat glide
But every day can be
A magic carpet ride
A little bit of courage is all we lack
So catch me if you can, I'm goin' back

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Today's song/The Homecoming - Cherish the Ladies

A soothing Sunday tune by Cherish the Ladies from their 2009 Christmas album, A Star in the East.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Today's Christmas cd/Lady Antebellum - On This Winter's Night

 This is a perfect Christmas album. Cheery, heartfelt, traditional. I know I rave a lot about music (and books) that I love, but honestly this is something special. The listener is transported to a comfortable, cozy living room with a fire blazing, while outside a gentle snow is falling. I love Lady Antebellum, and I adore On This Winter's Night.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Today's Christmas cd/Holidays Rule

This is just wonderful! It features seventeen artists, and every single song is unique and interesting. Rufus Wainright and Sharon Von Etten could be singing sixty years ago in Baby, It's Cold Outside. It is a rare treat to hear O Come, O Come, Emmanuel sung by Punch Brothers. Y La Bamba performs a delightful Senor Santa. The Shins do a version of McCartney's own Wonderful Christmastime, while Paul sings The Christmas Song, with Diana Krall on piano.

The winner of Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers is...

... Kay G.! You will so love this book.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last chance to sign up for giveaway

Today is the last day to enter your name in tomorrow's drawing for a copy of Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers. You may read more about it here. The book will be sent to the winner by the publisher, and their stipulation is that you must be in the US or Canada. This would make a wonderful present for a young child in your life, or for yourself!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Sally/December 8

Sally: a brief journey; an excursion or trip.

If you ever plan to stay in a hotel, you ought to read Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky. I first heard about it here:
This humorous tell-all by a former hotel worker really is startling. I simply could not believe some of the things this man said in the interview. I bought the book for a couple people - one who works in a hotel and the other who used to run an inn. I think they will be fascinated, as I expect will I. You may visit the author's website to learn more.

After reading Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers, I realized that I know almost nothing about our former First Lady, so I was delighted to turn on the Diane Rehm show Thursday, and hear Michael Gillette, the author of an oral history of Lady Bird.  You may listen to it online, or via a podcast here. The first thing I learned was that the origin of her name wasn't as presented in the children's book. You aren't going to hear slander or scandal in this book. The author isn't flashy. He has compiled a record of Lady Bird's own words. I look forward to reading it.

My third stop on this week's Sally is on this very blog, six years ago today. I posted a most creative, and very, very sad YouTube remembrance of John Lennon on the date he died. There were no comments that day, since I was a very new blogger and just a handful of people knew Letters from a Hill Farm existed. The original YouTube video is now blocked by EMI, so I went searching and found one that is available.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Quote du jour/Gladys Taber

I would certainly never think of making a list of the world's greatest books. I admire the courage of those that do. A book is what the reader finds in it, so how can you assay them except for your pleasure?
 Gladys Taber
Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge 1953

And what am I reading just now? A Lesson in Secrets, the 8th Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear; and on the Kindle, Disappeared by Anthony Quinn- a riveting mystery set in modern day Northern Ireland.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt

65. Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers
by Kathi Appelt
illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
children's book, 2005
finished 12/5/12

December 22 is the 100th anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson's birth. She was born Claudia Alta Taylor, though she was always known by the nickname given her as a baby by her nanny.

 She grew up in great comfort but also in great sadness. Her mother died from falling down the stairs when the little girl was only six years old. A neighbor told the lonely child a story about her mother. 

Her father did his best taking care of her, but finally called in her Aunt Effie to help with raising Lady Bird. From her aunt, she learned an appreciation of flowers. Aunt Effie planted daffodils and when the first one bloomed each year, Lady Bird would sing it a song, and say it was a princess. As the book goes along, we see her strong love of the natural world both in her hometown and later when she goes away to college. When she meets and marries the future President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the reader learns that Lady Bird was especially taken with the flowers in Mexico, where they spent their honeymoon.

When Lyndon is elected to the Congress, and the couple moves to Washington, Lady Bird is saddened by the 'dismal' city landscape. She worries about children growing up in such surroundings as she remembers 'how beautiful flowers and trees had helped her thrive.' After her husband becomes President she takes this feeling still further. 'She knew from her own experience that beauty would help the country recover' from the sadness of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Thanks to her boundless energy, and with the urging of the president, the Highway Beautification Act was passed by Congress. Because of that law the landscapes along the interstate highways of our great land were cleared of signs and rusted cars. The roadsides were blanketed in native wildflowers.
I can hardly believe there was a time when such sights as this were common along the roads.

This is a wonderful, wonderful book. I hope that the former First Lady saw it before she died in 2007. I learned so much about Lady Bird. The writing is engaging, and the illustrations are excellent. Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers would make a perfect Christmas present for a child, or an adult. I am very pleased to say that Blue Slip Media has offered a giveaway of the book.

I will do a drawing a week from today, on Wednesday, the 12th. If you would like to be entered to win a copy please let me know in a comment on any post today through Tuesday, the 11th, or you may email me. The only thing is that the winner must be in the US or Canada.  

The author has put together a fun and instructive PDF, found here, of activities to help celebrate Lady Bird's birthday.

 As a special treat here are the Sweetback Sisters doing Texas Bluebonnets. (not the Texas state song version)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Today's Christmas cd/Christmas with the Puppini Sisters

I bought this a couple years ago, but haven't written about it till now, though I did write about their 2007 album here. You may read more about them on their website. They are excellent singers with a real verve for their material. And they aren't really sisters, though their harmonies are as good as those usually associated with biological siblings. Two members have been there since the beginning while there have been a few incarnations of the third 'sister.' They sing beautifully and bring such fun to music. I guarantee you a smile on your face when listening. The album has the old standards and a couple newer ones like Step Into Christmas by Elton John/Bernie Taupin, and George Michael's Last Christmas (with a wonderful accordion). The Puppini Sisters are retro and oh, so current at the same time. Just great!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Today's Christmas cd/Rod Stewart - Merry Christmas, Baby

Guess what we did today?

And while we put the lights on, we listened to:

A great, great Christmas album! So nice to hear We Three Kings. And Auld Lang Syne with the L in Lang pronounced. And Silent Night with all the verses. And two wonderful rocking songs - Merry Christmas, Baby and Red-Suited Superman. Every song is a winner, and there are some terrific duets. Well worth buying. He even brings Ella Fitzgerald back from the dead to sing What Are You Doing New Year's Eve.

with flash

 Wish my camera could capture those lights. They are the old-fashioned, big, ones, only red, green, blue, orange, and white - the lights of my childhood, and my adult life.

 without flash

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Sally/December 1

Sally: a brief journey; an excursion or trip.

It's been ages since I posted a Saturday Sally, and yesterday I got thinking it was time to bring it back. The idea is that I'll post about three things - websites, news items, or videos that particularly appealed to me in the past week.

The first one is something I heard about on the program Radiolab on National Public Radio. It is a remarkable idea that someone came up with to help Alzheimer's patients in a nursing home in Germany. If you've had any connection with people who suffer from this, or other forms of dementia, you will be familiar with the fact that they get notions in their heads and can't be convinced out of them. They get agitated and insistent that something is true, or that they must get somewhere. This may be a cause of the dreaded wandering they tend toward. The remarkable idea was to put a fake bus stop outside the care center. When a patient gets the feeling that, for example, their mother is expecting them home, they can go outside to the bus stop and wait for a bus to bring them where they 'need' to be. While this may sound cruel, in the sense of fooling them, it is truly the opposite. It is a great kindness to respect the feelings of this person. He or she will go out and sit on the bench for a while until the urgent feeling passes, and they forget what they wanted to do. It has helped enormously and the people in charge have extended the idea to other instances in the nursing home such as a former baker who wakes up at 2am to go bake the bread. Whereas they used to coax him back to bed, not salving his anxiety in the least, now they let him get up and go to the kitchen. The idea has caught on, as at this nursing home in England. You may hear the whole segment here. It isn't very long, and well worth your time.

The second stop is a video of dear Bo, the First Dog, checking out the Christmas decorations in the White House, which is of course to him, only his home. Again, it isn't long but is so delightful. He is just adorable.

The last stop for this week is also an NPR program, this one Word Of Mouth, about tintypes. This was just fascinating, and if you live near Portland Maine you can go see an exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art which runs until February 13. I am particularly interested since I own a few tintypes of my ancestors. My late aunt gave them to me years ago as we spent a lovely afternoon looking through old pictures.

 My grandfather and his sister

The parents of the above children, who died when my grandfather was around six years old. He and my great-aunt were brought up by their aunt and uncle.

Two of my grandmother's three sisters